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Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel” – Jimi Hendrix
 
When we think all-American what comes to mind?  Apple pie…baseball…drive-thru windows…How about the Blues?

Howlin' Wolf

Howlin' Wolf

 
The Blues is an American song form as well as a genre of music.  It evolved out of the call and response songs of the South in the late 1800’s.  Most African-American songs were sung in a group setting, but with the abolition of slavery in the South, a more soloistic song form evolved.  The blues lyrics recounts tales of troubled times, hard luck, and the struggles of the human soul. 


            The pentatonic scale (1 is readily available for musical improvisation, which is often the case with the blues.  An instrument (often times a guitar, piano, or harmonica) can use five notes of a major or minor scale to create a personalized version of pitches that can be called licks.  By adding a few notes out of the normal scale, such as a lowered 5th scale degree (flat 5th) or a lowered 7th scale degree (flat 7th) it can enhance the licks to create a unique sound.  These extra pitches are called ‘blue notes.’
            Getting started with the blues can be easy, just learn how to write the lyrics.  12 bars are the standard number of measures in a blues progression.  The first four bars introduce the first line (A), a simple narrative like: “I went out last night, had those lonesome, cold blues.”  The next four bars repeat or reiterate the first line (A), and may include a slight variation: “Lord, I went out last night, had those cold, lonesome blues.”  Finally, the third verse concludes the narrative (B), ending with a rhyming word: “I lost my car keys and someone took my wallet and my shoes.”


Calling all students songwriters, musicians and singers!  We are looking for submissions to be showcased in our Cleveland County Artists feature:
email me at justin@cfmedia.info for more details.

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